When you think of your childhood, most remember playing with friends, packed school lunches, getting help from family with homework, and not being able to play until your chores were done. Well, consider yourself lucky if this sounds like a childhood you had or your children have.  Sadly, in the state of Texas, 184 children are confirmed daily child abuse victims and more than 7 children are maltreated every hour. One form of abuse that often goes unnoticed is neglect. Neglect is when a guardian fails to properly care for a child and possibly leaves the child abandoned. 

Warnings and Signs of Neglect

It is heartbreaking to know of a child who isn’t receiving proper care or not receiving the necessities needed to live a healthy life. Victims of neglect lack sufficient food, a place to stay, emotional support and care, or medical attention.   Other signs of neglect include the following: 

  • Parent or guardian ignore suggestions for a child to visit a doctor
  • Difficulty learning and focusing due to causes of physical or psychological abuse 
  • Asks for or steals food, money, or supplies
  • The child isn’t being watched over by adult
  • Has bad hygiene 
  • Does not own a proper wardrobe for different seasons
  • Child is secluded or doesn’t have many friends
  • Does not attend school functions or events
  • Develops or may have behavioral problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Acquires odd fears and low self-esteem 
  • Excessive absences 
  • Resists going home
  • Experienced in running away from home
  • Shows insubordinate and uncooperative behavior 
  • Self-harm, such as cutting and burning
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Stashing food 

Showing Support to a Child You Suspect Is Being Neglected

If at any time, you suspect a child is being neglected, please alert the local authorities or the Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. The hotline is open 24/7 and is toll-free.  In the meantime, you can try to build rapport with the child and show some support. Sometimes a neglected child needs attention to open up about any problems they are facing at home. Here are some tips on how to approach a child you suspect is a victim of neglect: 

  • Motivate the child to come forward with any problems
  • Constantly mention that what has happened to them is not their fault
  • Console the child as necessary
  • Consider their feeling, make them feel heard, and repeat what they say so they know you understand and are listening

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hidalgo and Starr Counties Wants to Help Child Victims of Neglect

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hidalgo and Starr Counties has been protecting victims of neglect since 2001. We implore the people in our communities to inform themselves of the signs and warnings of child abuse, including child neglect.